Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Rothko Requiem


This post had to be done, because Rothko was a very special kitty. He died over Thanksgiving weekend, and though we knew he wouldn't live to a ripe old age, he left too soon. He made it to his second birthday, at least, which was something of a miracle in itself. He had been doing so well, we had gotten his blood count up to 30 from the 9 it had been at. When he did pass away, it was very fast, which is all we could have hoped for.


It was the week after the hottest week in the summer that we found out about Grunty's anemia. The previous picture is him looking out at the tent Andy and I stayed in on the hottest nights, when we left our apartment on the hundred-degree days and went to the house by the lake where Andy's folks live, where it was cooler. Rothko is now buried in the backyard there, where he loved watching the birds from the window, chattering at them to hop into his mouth.


Taking Rothko to the vet to check his blood count and keep an eye on him was never a chore. He loved riding in the Mini Cooper, and didn't mind his cat carrier as long as he could see us, which is why it was one with mesh sides. At the vet office he would cling to us, or sit patiently in his carrier. Such a good boy


For about the first month and a half of his anemia, he developed some quirky habits. He could be found in strange places, hiding in kitchen cupboards or on the coat rack by the front door, he even laid on top of the stove a few times. I hate to anthropomorphize, but I think he was coming to terms with what was going on. One of the oddest habits was the wall-licking. For a while, every time he had a meal he would follow it by a trip to the brick wall. Eat... then wall.

video

Wall-licking aside, he eventually stopped hiding in strange places and things got back to normal. He came back to us, stayed on our bed at night and became friendly again. Well, as friendly as he ever got.


Then, on Saturday after Thanksgiving, Grunty's body gave up on him. It was so fast that by the time we felt we should bring him to the vet to be euthanized, he wouldn't let us move him, yowling when we did. He didn't like it when either of us left the room, we had him laying on towels on our bed and played music (his favorite-Coldplay's "Viva la Vida" album) to keep him calm as his breathing became more and more difficult. We were there with him, petting and encouraging him, and he fought til the end. He didn't want to go, but his body just couldn't do it anymore.

It's something that made me think that I could maybe never have a creature again. Immediately everyone seemed to be asking, "when are you getting another cat?" I thought maybe after a year, maybe two. But even though Grunty is gone, and there's a Grunty-shaped hole in our lives, I feel like he's made me and Andy more open to things like love and life, and a compassion I've never known before.

So we've gotten to a point much sooner than I thought where we're looking to adopt kitties. It's much faster than I thought, but it is so. very. quiet. And the best way to remember him, it seems, is to help another cat (or cats) that needs a home.

There is no replacement for Grunty. He was one in infinity, and I'm glad we picked out his little pink nose from the bunch. Such a good boy. Good boy, Grunty. Good boy.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Wait and See, Wait and See


Auto-immune hemolytic anemia. Knowing what it is doesn't make it much better, other than we know what's going on. We brought him into the emergency vet and they tested his blood. Then they said they weren't certain how he was still functioning. A cat's red blood cell count is supposed to be up around 40, from what they said, and his count was at 9 percent. They also said if a cat dropped that far from blood loss, they'd already be gone. So this has happened over time, all the time he acted like himself his body was actually attacking his bone marrow.

We knew something like this could happen, but it still hits like being kicked in the stomach. I wanted to write this while Grunty is still here, instead of after he's gone. Because in a way I think if even a stranger read this now, they could remember him too while he's still alive.

The good thing, the best thing, is that he isn't in pain. Pain robs of joy, and if there's one thing Rothko still has it's his own sense of fun. He's using the fact that we're being lax on rules because of his condition to be a kitten all over again, getting everywhere he's not supposed to be.


Andy came home the other day and couldn't find Rothko anywhere. He searched for fifteen minutes. Everywhere. And then the sound of purring came from the inside of the kitchen cupboards, where Grunty had fallen asleep on our paper bag pile. He cuddles with us more, sleeps by our pillows or, like last night, balanced precariously on top of Andy. He spends his time in his box on the shelf in the closet, or by the front door, trying to get out of the apartment when our hands are full, something he'd never been interested in before. He is just as much of a troublemaker as ever, and has us well-trained. At least he's stopped eating his litter, now that we've switched litters. Except now he must be carried to the box to use it, otherwise he stores it up like a camel. Just tonight we came home and he was perched on top of the stove, laying on one of the coil burners like it was a completely natural thing to do.


For being anemic, for being sick, he doesn't act ill. He seems tired, understandably, but he still looooves food, especially since we've switched over to wet food which is like the best thing on the planet. How much he loves this wet food is proportionate to how disgusting it smells, by the way.

No one knows how long it'll be before he's gone. The vets were amazed he's made it this far. But that's sort of how life is anyway. We never know when we're going to go, we don't know how or why or when or where. That's just sort of life. And even if you know it'll happen eventually, it doesn't make it any less shocking. At least, it was shocking at first. I'm still sad, and I'll cry over him a lot, and already have. But it could be days or weeks or months, and really Grunty doesn't want to be coddled constantly.

So the hardest part isn't waiting, it's acting like you're not. Even though I knew he had this virus, and the implications on his life span, I wasn't waiting before. Now I'm waiting and expecting an outcome, and it's easy to lose yourself to expectations, to lose hope and forget.

All you can do is love, and give it unconditionally, with open arms and no expectations and no waiting, and just let it be. Let it be.

Love you, Grunty.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Perfect Mug

This is my favorite mug. It's important to have a good mug for tea or coffee, especially when writing. It's difficult for me to write when I don't have tea. This particular mug is the perfect size and shape, and it's one of a kind, I probably would never be able to replace it. I got it at the first year I went to the Gig Harbor Art Tour, where all the artists in the area open up their studios and put their stuff on display for sale and admiration. I remember this mug was on an "oops" table at a pottery artist's studio, and cost five dollars. I don't really know what the imperfection was, because it was perfect for me!



Rothko likes the mug too. Or, rather, he likes to at least have a taste of whatever is in it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Post That Took 2 Days

Summer is here! I mostly wanted to show off a bunch of pictures I've been taking of stuff I've been up to. This has been a lot milder summer than it was last year, which is good for me, I wilt in the heat. But since it's been so nice Andy and I have been taking walks in the woods at American Lake to do some bird watching! There are a lot of Western Tanagers hanging around and this year there's a pair of Bullock's Orioles hanging around.

Also with summer all the cottonwoods are aflurry with their seeds, making it look like it's been snowing in June.



Foxgloves are blooming, and the ferns are at their greenest. It's one of the things I love most about the undergrowth here, the huge fern forests.





For Father's Day, Andy and I went with my dad and mom to the Olympia Farmer's Market followed by lunch at the Mercato, and then went to the Olympia Flight Museum's air show! Apparently it's been going on annually for like ten years and for some reason this was the first time I'd ever heard of it.

It was really a lot of fun. My dad was like a kid in a candy store, if it were candy that FLIES.



P-51! P-51! P-51! It was awesome to see the P-51 Mustang in action, they did a dogfight as a finale!


They had a lot of different planes there, and some of them looked happy to be there.


Gratuitous artsy plane macro photography...



Both Andy and I really enjoy learning about WWII, both of us have very important family history from that era, so whenever there's WWII stuff around, we're fascinated by it. There happened to be a guy dressed up in full WWII paratrooper gear. A full (I think he said) 80 pounds of equipment. He had a helper walking around with him in case he fell over and, like a turtle I imagine, couldn't get up again. It was some serious gear.





Somehow we found time to start cleaning out our walk-in closet, and finally got around to replacing a box that we've had since we got Rothko. It had some of Andy's photography supplies in it, and for some reason the cat tended to chew on it. He doesn't eat cardboard, but he likes the sound of his teeth going through it. It was particularly bad when he was teething, but now he does it as a habit. This particular box has been Rothko's favorite, and we periodically turned it to attempt to discourage him with a fresh unchewed side.

We couldn't save the box. It looks like we had problems with mice.



Grunty and Andy: catnap buddies.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Concerts and more concerts and more

Andy and I both love music, and love going to concerts.  We're lucky enough to live close enough to a wide range of venues that get visited quite often by a diverse array of bands.  Andy has much better taste in music than I do, truth be told, and it's rubbed off on me.  We got to know each other in the very beginning of our relationship by sharing music and going to concerts.

The Showbox in Seattle is one of our favorite venues, and we've seen quite a few shows there. One of our first dates was there, seeing the band Elbow.  Both Andy and I don't like getting squished in crowds, we really prefer having seats.  Seating in the Showbox is pretty minimal, but if you can grab them there are some really good views.  The trick is to get in before everyone else by going to the Green Room, the bar attached to the Showbox.  Green Room gets to enter before any of those poor people shivering in the rain in the line outside.


The Showbox has been around forever, it keeps some of its glam around with its chandeliers. There are photos up in the Green Room that show that Duke Ellington once played there.


I like the challenge of trying to take concert photos that aren't totally and completely blurred.

Here's Elbow:


We just went to the Shins show last week and sat next to the drunk couple posting to facebook from their iPhones.  Friends don't let friends drunkbook.

Here's the Shins:




We also go to other, more obscure bands.  One of the most surreal was to Abney Park, the steampunk band from around here.  Everyone. Everyone was dressed in steampunk gear.  Also the club was underground, so it felt like you had just stepped through a timeslip and we were the odd people out.  It was very, very cool.

This is Abney Park, I wish I could have gotten more pictures of the costumes people were wearing in the crowd, too:




We've also gone to some big headliners, more mainstream bands.  One of the best shows I've ever been to was Nine Inch Nails.  Trent Reznor is such a performance artist, and the sets were incredible.  There were scrims on stage that served as huge LED-like backgrounds, and some were even interactive.

One of the things about concerts these days is that there are no lighters, really. Mostly cellphones, waving in the air. Like here:


One of the LED-like sets, showing a creepy forest of doom:


My favorite album from NIN is Year Zero, which is all about government conspiracy to subdue the masses, adding things to the drinking water, big brother is watching you, freedom of speech is in danger.  I find it like a modernized way of exposing people to the same ideas posed in books like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451.

Here they had a set with all these 'security cams' set up, and some were live feeds from the audience.  Made you wonder if the screen showing a bathroom stall was stock footage or not.


All these concerts make you stay up pretty late, but it's usually fine.  Andy and I are night owls, me moreso.  Although once we got caught in a parking lot in our Mini for three hours after a Radiohead concert and it was four in the morning before we got home.

This was us at about hour number two post-concert:


Anyhow, these are just a sample.  This summer we have quite a few more concerts to go to.  Coldplay, Neko Case, Flight of the Conchords, probably others once we get word of them!

Rothko. Unimpressed by music.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Protection Island: I am not a Crazy Birder

This weekend Andy and I had another road trip!  This time it was a birthday present for me, a few weeks early because it's still off-season to travel in April, plus with a certain bridge closing the first of May, a trip would have taken a whole lot longer next month.  So we drove up to Port Townsend to go on a little cruise set up by the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, they charter a boat a few times a year to travel around Protection Island, a wildlife sanctuary that many marine birds nest at each year.

So we set off early Saturday morning.  Me with my camera always handy!


Across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge with the sunroof open.


The chartered boat was a 65-foot yacht called the Glacier Spirit.  It was packed, so many people it was a full cruise.  Because it was crowded, and because I get antsy being inside on boats, Andy and I both went out to sit at the bow, even though it was cold and windy.


You can't tell in this photo of Andy, but he's freezing.  I was too.  The only people other than us that were crazy enough to stay outside the entire three hour ride were the crazy, crazy birders.


Luckily, the water was fairly calm and the sun came out after a while, but you could certainly tell where tidal forces made the waves choppy.


Protection Island was only about a half hour ride from the Port Townsend marina, and then the boat slowed and took a leisurely circle about the island.  Other than a few nesting Double-crested Cormorants, there weren't any actively nesting birds, which was a little disappointing.  Apparently it was too early for nesting birds, and an off time for migrating ones.  I was hoping to see a lot of new birds to add to my list, but at least I got one! A White-Winged Scoter.


Birds we saw were:


  • White-Winged Scoters

  • Surf Scoters

  • Pigeon Guillemots

  • Harlequin Ducks

  • Oldsquaw

  • Double-Crested Cormorants

  • Pelagic Cormorants

  • Horned Grebes

  • Rhinoceros Auklets

  • Bonaparte's Gulls

  • Heerman's Gull

  • Lots and lots of other gulls



Other birders at the front of the boat were freaking out every time there was a new bird, and arguing with the naturalists that tried to strike up conversations, and this one lady insisted she had seen this super rare bird.  Even though it was probably a common bird still in winter plumage. She. Saw. That. Bird. And you could not tell her otherwise.


Andy said to me, "You know, I've figured something out about you."

"What's that?"

"You are a solitary birder."

Crazy birders are crazy.  I just like birds a whole lot.  I don't have to be right!

So after that, we settled into Colette's B&B where we stayed the night, and went out to dinner at the Alder Wood Bistro in Sequim.  They have the most amazing food.  They do everything organic, seasonal, and local.  I had their mussels and halibut special, and it was the best halibut I've ever had.

I could never be a food photographer, I always forget to take pictures before I eat it all.


In the morning, the sun was shining on the gardens at Colette's, and everything was beautiful.



There were songbirds everywhere, and one that perched outside that I tried to capture using a pair of binoculars.


After an awesome breakfast we went out to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge to walk out on the spit.  The trees on the coast are all shaped by wind, and it was so sunny out.



It's fun to drive on coast highways!  This picture also shows Andy's late sunglasses, which tragically broke in half...


And were quickly replaced by a cheap pair from a QFC that hides his eyebrows and half his face.


By the time we got home we were both pretty pooped.  It was a very fun weekend!  When we got home, Andy needed a nap.  Rothko sat on him to keep him from leaving.